Mykonos

I’m sure you have all seen the iconic pictures of places like Mykonos and Santorini, but they really do not do them justice. Elizabeth and I weren’t really sure what to expect, but were totally blown away by this area. First and foremost- there are cats everywhere! Super cute, but obviously problematic as all of them are not fixed. We arrived to Mykonos very early Friday morning to the Boheme hotel, where we were very warmly greeted. The staff was so kind and welcoming, and took our luggage while we were offered breakfast. The lobby area and pool area took our breath away, so we had some amazing omelets while we enjoyed the view.

They were able to check us in early, which was a huge plus, and gave us the keys which were a really cute touch! They are handmade and each key is different, which is special. When we went to our room, they showed us this incredible suite with a gorgeous view and a private Jacuzzi on the outside. I had such a wonderful experience with the hotel and the staff, and would recommend it to any friends going to Mykonos.

After recovering, we decided to go into town. Beware- the shopping is SO good and I am returning home dirt poor. Oh, well. We made our way towards the famous windmills, which were really cool to see in person. The town is so beautiful everywhere you look, with mostly white and blue buildings and really cool stones on the streets. All of the stores drew us in, with local paintings, handmade jewelry, and perfect souvenirs to bring back to family and friends. And although I’m sure they are all disease infested, the cats are everywhere and usually very friendly! So we made some new friends.

We were totally exhausted, so we didn’t go out, but Mykonos is supposed to have really good nightlife so I would suggest finding some fun places and taking part in that. We did go out for a sushi dinner, which was amazing. Koursaros was delicious, but super expensive, which we did not know in advance. So adults, definitely go, but students like me- probably look elsewhere.

I loved Mykonos, and hope you get to see it one day! Make sure to leave lots of room in your suitcase, because the shopping is too good. Comment your bucket list vacation below 🙂

Xoxo,

 

G

Springfest München

I’ve always heard of Oktoberfest, but Springfest is like the little sister that fewer people know about! I am so glad I got to make a trip to Munich during my time in Europe, and had no idea how close Italy was to Germany. Although the trip there was crazy, I would definitely recommend it and had a fabulous time.

Maddy and I were flying from Bologna straight to Munich, which is only one hour away. Unfortunately, once we got to the Bologna airport, Maddy realized she had forgotten her passport! We begged the gate assistant to overlook this, but she was forced to go home. So I flew by myself to Munich, where I was staying at one of the most amazing Hiltons. The Hilton Munich Park has amazing customer service, is right next to metro stations, and has amazing accommodations! Our room was on the 12th floor, which had a beautiful view, and they left us sweet touches like notes and fresh fruit.

Once Maddy got back, she found a Flixbus that would go through the night and arrive to Munich in the morning! So I enjoyed the free breakfast that comes with the room, and we planned to meet at the fest. Although the hotel sells gorgeous Drindls, the traditional German dress worn to the festival, I set out on a mission for more affordable options. The hotel sells genuine ones, so the price range is higher. The concierge was so helpful with public transport, and I was able to buy my ticket directly from him! It was actually quite difficult to find a store, but I found one with tons of options close to the fest in the 50-70 euro price range. The store owner was so nice, and gave me a free hairpiece!

I finally met up with Maddy at Springfest, after her literally 12-hour bus ride… Fun. The fest is basically a big carnival, with things like a ferris wheel and some actually crazy rides! We went into the Hippodrom, which is a huge tent where everyone sits and drinks beer while listening to some live music. Maddy and I don’t even like beer, but the ambience was so fun! I ate huge pretzels and had way too much sugar, then we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

In the evening, we were introduced to the ‘cocktail master’, Lucas, who the manager definitely hyped up. We were not let down. After some of these tasty and colorful drinks, we headed to their restaurant. I was so impressed by this food and service! The manager kept checking on us and was so friendly, and had lots of recommendations. Being from Texas, I wanted to try their filet, and am very picky about this particular staple. Maddy also has all of her dietary restrictions, but neither of us were disappointed. My steak and Maddy’s chicken were amazing, and I could have legitimately had hundreds of the sweet potato fries.

Although we were there for a very short time, the hotel completely took care of us and made everything so fun and easy. I can’t believe this was my last weekend trip while abroad, and am so glad it was this one!

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Cinque Terre Day Trip

Time to talk major wanderlust: Cinque Terre, Italy!

I think most of us have seen pictures of the gorgeous coast with the insanely colorful buildings, but I had no idea how incredible the area would be in person. My school has an annoying policy where whenever we have a holiday with school off, we have to make it up that Friday. So since we didn’t have time for a full blown weekend trip, we did a day trip through Smart Trip, which was so fantastic! I’m so glad we did it through this company, because the way the tour went was perfect.

The group met at 7am at the train station, where we took a 2.5 hour bus to the first town, Manarola! This town was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and is the one that shows up in the image at the top! We climbed around the rocks and got some of the best views. I would love to go back and take a boat tour or in the summer when it’s warm enough to swim.

We didn’t have much time to spend in this town, but I was in love with all the colors and my personal favorite part- I saw a ton of cats! We went through some random streets looking for hidden gems and were not disappointed.

Next, we took the train to Riomaggiore! This town had so many stores selling lemon candy and other lemon-themed things, which I am always a huge fan of. It’s a great spot to get cute little gifts. We continued to explore, and made some new friends from California and London. In every town, we wanted to see the water, so we all ventured down towards the beach area together. We found so many cute spots and hung out on the rocks again, which I have to warn can be treacherous! Classic Grace move- I saw a crab and fell on the rocks because I was so scared. Other than that, loved it.

The next town we took the train to was perfection. We went to Monterosso, which is the major beach area. The Smart Trips guides gave us some recommendations on places to get lunch and drinks, and we got some of the BEST calamari that is prepared right in front of you. A really great drink place is right next door, so we stocked up before walking down to the beach. Side note- I’m in love with bandanas lately! I’ve been using them in my hair or around my neck as a scarf, and it is so convenient and a cute pop of color if you need one.

There were chairs on the beach that you can lay in, but expect to pay. Since it was only five euros a person, we thought it was worth it. The weather was absolutely perfect, very sunny and in the high sixties, so we were able to bust out our bathing suits! Finally. We laid out for a few hours, and it was so relaxing. How perfect are my friends??

Since spring break was moderately chilly, finally having weather and time to lay out and tan on a beach was so nice. If planning a trip to Cinque Terre, I would say it’s definitely worth it to wait until it starts to warm up. I had wanted to go before, but this was the first weekend of warm weather and I’m so glad I waited. The towns are stunning and I think everyone should try and visit!

Xoxo,

Grace

Barcelona for Spring Break

Okay, so it’s official… I’m in love with Barcelona. We went here for spring break and were initially supposed to stay three days, but extended it to five because the city was so amazing. When we got there, it was in the evening, so we only had dinner, did some shopping, and went out. The dinner place was SO good and in the city center, so if you find yourself there, go! It was called Woki Organic Market, and right next to all the shopping. I had never seen Pull and Bear before, but that is my new favorite place to shop. Please come to Texas!

It’s pretty cool- all the clubs are right next to each other and on the beach, so we went to Opium, but a lot of places like Pacha and Shoko looked great as well. I hate being negative, but DO NOT stay at this Airbnb! We had a poor experience with this place, and should have also done a better location. It obviously depends on the person, but if I could do it again I would stay by the beach. Barcelona’s metro system is pretty solid, though, so getting around isn’t really an issue if you get a metro pass.

We hit the beach where the weather was nice, restaurants were great, and knockoffs GALORE. I may have spent 90% of my money on the knockoffs… ha. The vendors sell tapestries super cheap by the beach, which is nice to sit on if you don’t want to get sand everywhere. We got the BEST poke bowls at Kaymana, which is right by the beach, and acai bowls from FitBar. The places that are close to the beach are pretty expensive, but all of the ones we went to were delicious. We also got breakfast at Brunch and Cake, which everyone loves but I had an allergic reaction. If allergic to nuts- would not recommend, but otherwise, it’s great!

We had reservations to go see Guell Park, which was beautiful! Unfortunately, some of it was under construction so we couldn’t get to the coolest viewpoint that I’ve seen all over the internet, but it was still pretty. If going to Guell, buy tickets online and in advance for convenience and to save money.

Arguably my favorite part of Barcelona was La Rambla. It is a market with all sorts of fruits, meats, and sweets! First, we got a MUCH needed mani/pedi at Secret Spot, who did a really great job on us. They were right across from La Rambla, so we got lunch there! My favorite booths were empanadas and chocolate covered strawberries.

They also had a huge selection of candy, desserts including fun variations of crepes, and so much fruit!

For our last night, we stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar, which was completely opposite. Wonderful customer service, great location, and an awesome pool. Sadly, the weather was not great to go to the pool, but when it gets warmer, it will be amazing. Lastly, if looking for a fantastic breakfast place, definitely check out Metropolitan Cafe– everyone who worked there was incredibly nice and the food was delicious.

I can’t wait to go back! Comment what your favorite part would be!

Xoxo,

Grace

Ibiza in March??

I’m very used to Spring Break being when I go to a beach or somewhere warm from Texas, so this year was a little different. It has been very cold in Florence, and we wanted to go anywhere that would be warmer at all, so we thought Spain! Unfortunately, our ideas of Ibiza being a beach and great nightlife were off by a few months. It turns out everything on the island is essentially closed until things warm up.

Okay, so this may have been a mistake to go here during spring break. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I recommend it? No. We stayed in the best Airbnb that I definitely would recommend, but didn’t go out much. Basically the only thing we did was order Japanese food and go to a chilly beach pretending it was warm, but that was still really nice! We walked over to Playa De Talamanca and laid out for a few hours, and took these pics. Duh.

 

I’m so obsessed with all of my Triangl bikinis, but would definitely have gotten a larger top, so if considering buying this bikini, size up in the strapless ones! Also, I’ve definitely gained more than a few pounds living in Italy, but #bodyposi and all that. Love pizza.

 

I found my new favorite brunch place ever- too bad I probably won’t ever see it again! But if you visit I 100% suggest going here! It was healthy, ridiculously tasty, and right next to the beach! Passion Marina was the name, and the brunch was fantastic. We missed breakfast sadly, but the lunch was still amazing. Maddy was able to eat there, which is always a plus as she is gluten free/dairy free/sugar free. We got some delicious smoothies, and I had a goat cheese salad.

 

We really really wanted to see Es Vedra, which is apparently a stunning sunset viewpoint, but couldn’t afford the super expensive taxi to get there. So instead, we went to Ses Salines with a bottle of wine to enjoy it from there. It was really pretty, but so cold!! I would suggest to anyone visiting Ibiza- definitely go to Es Vedra. From what we heard and saw on Google, it would have been incredible.

 

This is when things got funny. A German man and woman saw us from what we assumed was a home, and knew we were cold so they invited us in! After telling ourselves we wouldn’t get murdered, we went in and realized it was more of an outside shack. It still shielded us from the wind, and we met a man named Lutz who was a caretaker of the resort on the beach. It was totally empty since the weather was still bad, so he had the place to himself. We also met his friend, Ulrike, who we found out MODELED IN PLAYBOY. What? We hung out with them for a few hours, then went home.

It was only about a full day in Ibiza, but I’m glad we didn’t spend more time there. It seems amazing when its in full swing, but we definitely went at the wrong time of year. Some places it can be beneficial to visit during off season, but I’m realizing many European places actually shut down during winter. So before visiting, make sure you find out if hotels/restaurants/clubs etc will be open!

Xoxo

Slumming it in Genoa and Nice

Maddy, Rachel, and I wanted to go to Nice badly for a while, but it was about an 11 hour bus ride so we began looking for alternatives. We ended up deciding to go through Genova, also called Genoa (confusing??) which would split the trip up into two 2.5 hour bus rides. Although we didn’t go in knowing much about Genoa, we all agreed it was one of the coolest places we have seen so far and I would definitely recommend both of these places!

In Genoa, we got there late and literally went hotel to hotel seeing which ones would take us and were affordable. We found a super cute B&B that was affordable, but surprisingly did not include breakfast! The first thing we did was go to Palazzo Reale, which was so beautiful that we had to do a mini photoshoot there.

After that, we went on a hunt for the classic colorful building/beach that you think of when you imagine Cinque Terre or Positano type of places. We were told to go to the ‘fisherman’s market’, which we were pretty skeptical about. But once we got there, it totally lived up to all our expectations. The buildings were beautiful, and the beach was really incredible.

We didn’t do much else in Genoa, but we had an amazing seafood lunch right on this beach, which is always really fun when you are so close to the water. We went on to Nice that evening. Unfortunately, the weather was absolutely horrible so we didn’t get to experience it like we should have. I will say that the market we stumbled upon was probably the highlight for me- handmade soaps, essential oils, meats, cheeses, pastries, you name it. It was pouring rain the entire time but we really loved this market and also went to a cool photography museum that was (yay!) free for students!

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After that, we hid from the rain in the CUTEST little shop. Sadly, I am allergic to nuts and couldn’t try the macarons, but they looked like perfection. I also got a hot chocolate there which was exactly what we needed to warm us up.

After that, we were aimlessly wandering and stumbled upon what seemed to be a church and some gardens. We followed where other people seemed to be walking, and got so lucky. The view was beautiful, and even though it was still raining, we really enjoyed it. We also went to a dock kind of area to see the view, which wasn’t really that cool, but we still gawked at the yachts.

Finally, the best part of Nice was the Carnival we went to late that night. It was only one street over from our hostel, which I highly do NOT recommend, by the way. Long story that is not worth blogging about, but if you want sexual harassment and horrible customer service definitely go there! Carnival was basically an enormous parade with thousands of people in the crowd, and a huge highlight of my studying abroad so far. You can see a lot more in my Youtube video, but here are a few pictures. It featured Trump, Putin, and Kim Jong which was hilarious. There was confetti, dancers, loud music, and it was really cool to be a part of. Make sure to watch the video, and email subscribe for my next adventure!

Xoxo,

G

 

London For Less Than 24 Hours

As many of you know, I am studying in Florence this semester (February to May)! My dad and I decided to make a trip out of it, and we first went through London. We flew the absolute cheapest way possible, which is definitely an option for those who are interested. I believe we paid close to $200 a person for our flights to London one way, which is really quite affordable. We kept laughing, though, because our low prices were EARNED. We flew from Austin to Vegas, Vegas to OSLO, NORWAY, and then Oslo to London. The flights were exhausting, and the Oslo flight was actually hilarious. We had to walk outside and get on a bus in the literally freezing cold, where it was raining/snowing, and then go get on our plane. The plane, by the way, did not recline, even have tray tables, or offer free drinks. Also, serious disclaimer- most of the flights we had to pay a lot of extra for my luggage. Normally, we would have been fine, but we had 4 suitcases, two of which were overweight. So when booking cheap flights, make sure the luggage fees won’t get you.

Once we go to London, we stayed in an Airbnb in South Kensington. Huge mistake- we got off the train from the airport to our place one stop too early and had to take an hour and a half uber. Oops. That night, we had the BEST pizza that I have had so far in Europe. Yes, that includes Italy! Our Airbnb host recommended Franco Manca, which we walked to, and it was absolutely amazing. I had a cheese pizza with goat cheese, artichoke, and tomato on it. It seemed that the employees were Italian, so maybe that explains it. Both me and my dad could not speak highly enough of this place, so definitely go if you are looking for good pizza in that area.

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After sleeping, we woke up early to go hit the tourist spots of London. First, we went to the Tower of London and walked across the bridge. The tower is really incredible, but we did not have time to go in. I do remember going in when I was a child, and being amazed, so for sure do that if you have time! After that, we met one of my friends from Belmont, Micaela! We met at Westminster Abbey and did a short walk through. People varying from Charles Darwin to famous queens are buried there, so that is worth a look. We also ventured over to Buckingham Palace, which is beautiful. The gates and the general area are very cool to look at. Finally, we went to the London Eye for a ride. Sadly, there was quite a line and we were unaware that the ride takes 40 minutes! So we left to the train station that was taking us to Paris. We were bummed that we did not really get a good look at Big Ben, but it was being cleaned so it was harder to see and we ran out of time for other things. London is not my favorite place to visit, but I want to go back just to see some of the things I missed this time around. Comment your favorite things to do in London below!

(My cute sunnies are from Beehive Boutique !)

Xoxo

G